What does The Prince of Wales do to reduce his own carbon footprint?
The Prince of Wales has been an environmental leader for over 40 years, working with businesses, charities, governments and other organisations to help promote sustainable ways of living and working. The Household strives to minimise its environmental impact across its activities. This includes its greenhouse gas emissions, which are subject to independent assurance each year.
In 2015/16 the Household reduced greenhouse gas emissions from sources under its control by 20 per cent. While they vary each year, the aim is to ensure emissions are minimised by investing in renewable energy and ensuring travel is planned with carbon as well as cost and logistics in mind.
Office and domestic energy use
The Household takes active steps to reduce its use of fossil fuels by substituting renewable energy sources and improving energy efficiency.
In 2015/16, 84% of energy (including green gas and electricity) came from renewable sources; 38% was generated on-site.
Renewable sources include:
•Woodchip boilers at Highgrove, Birkhall and Llwynywermod
•Ground- and air-source heat pumps at Highgrove
•Solar panels at Clarence House and Highgrove
•Electricity purchased from renewable sources
Energy efficiency measures include:
•Replacement of older boilers with more efficient models
•Improving building insulation
•Improving heating controls and pumps
•Upgrading computers to low-energy models
•Using low-energy light bulbs
•Detailed monthly monitoring of energy use for each office and residence including the use of “Smart Meters” and ensuring staff switch off lights and equipment when not needed.
Travel in the UK and overseas on behalf of the government is an essential part of Their Royal Highnesses’ work and carbon emissions vary each year according to the diary of engagements. However, the environmental impact of travel is taken into account when planning the diary, alongside other considerations such as cost and security arrangements. In addition, the Royal Train runs on bio-diesel made from used cooking oil and The Prince’s Aston Martin runs on fuel made from wine wastage and a cheese by-product.
Public transport is used for staff travel as far as possible and most staff walk, cycle or use public transport to get to and from work. Cycling is also supported through a cycle-to-work scheme and the provision of shower and changing facilities.
Balancing out carbon emissions
The Household does not use the term “carbon neutral”, however it does contribute towards sustainable forestry projects to help balance out its emissions by increasing carbon stored in land and trees through new tree planting or through avoided deforestation.
The current project supports communities in protecting their forests while providing them with jobs, education and health care. The project has been certified to two independent standards for carbon reductions and for biodiversity and community benefits.
The Duchy Home Farm
Greenhouse gas emissions are an unavoidable impact of agriculture; they come mainly from nitrogen in manure and crops (nitrous oxide) and from livestock (methane).
The farm is managed to try to minimize emissions through the careful timing of manure applications and the sowing of plants that ‘catch’ the nitrogen. By incorporating cattle manure and plant matter in the soil, significant quantities of carbon can be stored, reducing net greenhouse gas emissions. Avoiding energy-intensive artificial fertilizers also reduces greenhouse gas emissions in the supply chain.
Steps are also taken to reduce fossil fuel use. A ‘conservation tillage’ machine that reduces fuel use by tilling the soil to a shallower depth continues to be trialed; energy-efficient heat exchangers and solar thermal heating help reduce electricity use in the dairy; and a large array of solar panels produces renewable electricity.
The Prince of Wales continues to help address the challenge of climate change through the work of his various initiatives and projects, often in partnership with governments, the private sector and non-governmental organisations. These include the International Sustainability Unit (which works to facilitate a consensus on tackling environment-related challenges such as food security, ecosystem resilience and the depletion of natural capital), and sector-based initiatives such as the ‘ClimateWise’ group of leading insurance companies, the ‘P8’ group of leading pension funds and the Legal Sector Alliance, The Prince’s May Day Network of over 3,500 UK businesses and The Prince’s Accounting for Sustainability Project.
In overall terms, His Royal Highness adopts an integrated approach to tackling environmental problems, encompassing not just efforts to reduce his Household’s impact and his specific environmental projects and initiatives, but also his work in many other fields. This work covers a wide range of inter-connected areas, from supporting small-scale farmers to promoting a more sustainable approach to planning and designing homes and communities in a way that enhances and adds value to the social, natural and built environment.
The Annual Review provides further information, including a Sustainability Account that provides a detailed breakdown of The Household’s carbon emissions and energy use.